Tim Price continued New Zealand’s domination of this year’s CCI**** events as he took the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
This is the third four-star competition won by the Price family following wife Jonelle’s victories at the Badminton and Luhmuhlen. They are the second husband and wife team to win both major four-star competitions in the UK since 1971.
Clear rounds were hard to come by throughout the final day – only eight in total. The first of these came from French rider Camille Lejeune and Tahina Des Isles. And when defending champion Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class lowered a rail this gave Price some breathing space. But he kept his cool to claim the title with Ringwood Sky Boy on a score of 27.3. He also jumped clear with Bango to finished in 10th.
In winning he paid tribute to his team, commenting: “Without these people it wouldn’t be the same result.”
Of his win he commented: “Sky Boy deserves a good day – so often we nail two out of the three phases, so to finally pull them all together in a major competition is fantastic. This win means everything and I’m super proud of my horse. It’s always been a dream since watching Andrew (Nicholson), Mark (Todd) and Blyth (Tait) as kids. That really got us inspired. To be in this position is not something I would have predicted. It’s fun to be here and beyond any wildest dream.”
Runner-up Townend commented: “Ballaghmor Class is as special a horse that I have ever ridden and for me this week he turned into a professional. This year he came and dug deep and has gone beyond my expectations and I’m incredibly fortunate to have him on my yard.He’s still only 11 and I’ve been telling people for years how good he is. He’s proved that again today. I couldn’t be happier with his performance. I felt like he was completely with me in all three phases. To be first last year and to come back and give a better performance and to finish second is very special.”
Andrew Nicholson’s clear round with Swallow Springs moved him up from fifth to finish third on a score of 32.1.They were also the only pair in the field to complete on their dressage score – an amazing achievement in what is the horse’s 4* debut.
“I’m very, very pleased with him,” said Nicholson. “He got distracted by the crowds in the show jumping at Blenheim last year where he had three down, and felt a bit babyish at Bramham in the summer, but he was pure class here. He had a look at the TV camera as we came down to the treble but came back to me when I asked him to focus.”
Piggy French and Vanir Kamira dropped from third overnight to fifth after the mare lowered the gate whilst Harry Meade and Away Cruising also dropped two places from fourth to sixth after they too rolled a pole. Show jumping is the gelding’s weakest phase and one which Harry has had to work hard to manage: “If you told me at the beginning of the week we’d just have one down I’d have taken that,” he said: “He has got much better though which I think is a combination of him growing up and me preparing him in a very specific way.”
Local rider Richard Jones posted his best result to date with Alfies Clover in seventh. The pair rose from 33rd after dressage courtesy of two superb jumping phases: “This results means everything but it’s all about progression and hopefully we can come back in the future and win it,” he said.
Ciaran Glynn and November Night finished as the best Burghley first-timers in 14th. The Irishman commented: “That was a very good first Burghley! I knew the show jumping would be tough because November Night has a huge stride, but the feel she has given me all week is really encouraging. She is phenomenally scopey.”
There were some great leaps up the field through the competition; Tina Cook rose from 62nd after dressage to finish 11th with Star Witness whilst Michael Owen moved up from 65th to finish 15th with Bradeley Law.
At the final horse inspection, the Tattersalls sponsored Horse Care Award was presented to
Janet Willis who looks after Chance Remark, the ride of Willa Newton with the pair going on to finish eighth. Janet has been a groom for the Newton family for 33-years when she was first employed to look after their hunters and point-to-pointers. She began grooming at events with Willa’s sister Chloe and this year was her third Burghley with Willa.
Sam Griffiths retired his superb four-star campaigner Happy Times in a ceremony in front of a cheering crowd. Happy aged 19 has competed at Burghley on 6 occasions, so there was no better place for Sam to honour his fabulous career. We wish Happy a wonderful retirement, he will be missed on the circuit by many.
IMAGES COURTESY OF TANZY LEE